Self-Collected Sexual Assault Kits: Assessing and Mitigating the Risks

This article focuses on self-collected sexual assault kits—sometimes known as “do-it-yourself” or “DIY” kits— that are self-administered post-assault and involve the collection and preservation of evidence from the body in a non-medical setting. It examines the rationale behind self-collected kits for victims of sexual violence who state that they want to address their trauma outside the healthcare and criminal justice systems; the challenges self-collected kits present for prosecutors; and the limitations of self-collected kits to provide critical victim care, treatment, and support traditionally provided through the sexual assault medical forensic exam (SAMFE) process. The authors discuss the available alternatives for those circumstances in which self-collected kits may be perceived to be the best available option. Finally, where self-collected kits have been used, the authors offer strategies to mitigate the evidentiary, advocacy, and legal challenges they present. SIB38_Jan22